Myths About Married Filing Separately
Married filing separately is a tax filing status option for married couples in the United States. However, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding this filing status. Here are some of the common myths about married filing separately:
- “Married filing separately saves us money”: One of the most significant myths is that filing separately automatically leads to tax savings. In reality, it’s often less advantageous than filing jointly. Some tax credits and deductions are not available or are limited for those filing separately, resulting in potentially higher overall taxes.
- “We won’t be responsible for each other’s taxes”: Some couples believe that filing separately means they won’t be held liable for their spouse’s taxes. However, in community property states, certain income and deductions might still be attributed to both spouses, making them jointly responsible for taxes.
- “Married filing separately simplifies tax preparation”: Couples might assume that filing separately is easier than filing jointly, especially if they have complex financial situations. However, this can lead to additional complexities in determining eligible deductions and credits, and it may require more effort and time in gathering and organizing tax information.
- “We can avoid our spouse’s tax problems”: Filing separately doesn’t necessarily shield one spouse from the tax issues of the other. If one spouse is audited or owes back taxes, it could potentially affect both spouses, especially in community property states.
- “We can still claim all deductions and credits”: Filing separately can limit certain deductions and credits, reducing the overall tax benefits. For example, if one spouse itemizes deductions, the other spouse must also itemize, even if it would be more beneficial to take the standard deduction.
- “We can change our filing status later”: Once the tax deadline passes, you cannot change your filing status for that tax year. If you initially filed separately and later realize it would have been more advantageous to file jointly, you won’t be able to make that adjustment until the next tax year.
- “We can get more stimulus payments by filing separately”: Eligibility for economic stimulus payments (e.g., COVID-19 relief payments) is typically based on adjusted gross income (AGI). Filing separately may not increase your eligibility for these payments and could actually reduce it due to phase-out thresholds.